October 20, 2016 8:45AM
During her freshman year at Pittsburg State, Lora Lockhart was unable to attend a panel discussion by female graduates of the university’s College of Technology.
Lockhart played softball at PSU, and the team’s travel schedule conflicted with the COT event.
“During my sophomore year, however, I made sure to attend,” Lockhart said. “And I will never regret it.”
Lockhart, who graduated in 2010 with a construction management degree, is the vice president and director of project development at DT Specialized Services, a demolition contractor based in Tulsa, Okla. Her role consists of managing the estimating department, marketing and project management aspects of her team.
A native of Skiatook, Okla., Lockhart is one of approximately 800,000 women nationwide to work in the construction industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2014 that women make up just 9 percent of the construction workforce in the United States.
“Lora,” her official DT profile says, “is proof that demolition is not a man’s world.”
While she never doubted that she could be successful in the construction field, Lockhart said the panel discussion during her sophomore year solidified her decision to pursue her career.
“Listening to the panel discussions confirmed my youthful suspicions of wanting to do something different, something great with my education and career,” she said.
And Pittsburg State’s School of Construction was the perfect place to prepare.
“Being a woman in the construction management program was not difficult at Pittsburg State, but rather enjoyable,” she said. “Being a collegiate athlete along with completing summer internships in the workforce kept me focused on my studies and driven to interact with the guys I was associated with. I can honestly say I did not face any major challenges throughout the years with being a female in the program.”
That’s why Lockhart strongly encourages female students at Pitt State to consider careers in the technology field.
“If you happen to be a female student, specifically with no current major declared, I highly suggest attending events at the Kansas Technology Center such as panel discussions and tours of the facility to see what is out there for women in the industry,” she said. “Reach out to faculty members who are associated with whichever degree may interest you. They are always more than willing to discuss classes and opportunities that may arise after receiving your degree. Our professors at the KTC have first-hand, real-life experiences in the fields they teach.”
Lockhart said her overall experience at PSU is what led her to her current success.
“I will strongly attest that the internship programs that were suggested, and eventually required, to obtain our degree were very beneficial and key to my current career successes,” she said. “I worked for the general contractor that granted my internships, Flintco, LLC, full time after college for several years. In that time frame, I was introduced to many construction leaders in the Tulsa area and even worked directly with some of Tulsa's best.
“I believe I was blessed with my current position by being focused, driven, respectful and willing to learn from others in the industry,” she said, “which is identical to the approach I took throughout my educational career at Pittsburg State.”